Digital Access

Digital Access
Access from all your digital devices and receive breaking news and updates from around the area.

Home Delivery

Home Delivery
Local news, prep sports, Chicago sports, local and regional entertainment, business, home and lifestyle, food, classified and more! News you use every day! Daily, Daily including the e-Edition or e-Edition only.

Text Alerts

Text Alerts
Choose your news! Select the text alerts you want to receive: breaking news, prep sports scores, school closings, weather, and more. Text alerts are a free service from, but text rates may apply.

Email Newsletters

Email Newsletters
We'll deliver news & updates to your inbox. Sign up for free e-newsletters today.

Arbitration date set for police negotiations in Sterling

STERLING – An arbitration session has been scheduled in the ongoing contract negotiations between the city and its police union.

City Administrator Scott Shumard said an arbitrator would step in on Oct. 2, if no deal is hammered out by then.

“I guess something could be done before that time, but it’s been more than a year since the last contract expired,” Shumard said. “There’s not a lot of motivation to hurry, if the increase is modest and will be retroactive.”

The city’s contract with its police department expired April 30, 2013. Because the jobs are in the public safety arena, the existing contract is automatically extended until a new labor agreement is reached with the department.

An arbitration session had been scheduled for May, but the union requested that a mediator be used instead. The mediator was brought in and was unable to help the sides reach a deal.

A mediator presides over a meeting to facilitate negotiations as an unbiased third party, while an arbitrator is entrusted with handing down a decision in the matter. The decision is usually binding for both parties.

The city ratified a new 3-year contract with its fire department union at a special council meeting on June 23. The firefighters will get a 1.75 percent raise in the first and second years of the deal, and a 2.5 percent raise in the final year, for a total of 6 percent over the life of the contract.

The trickiest part of those negotiations was to bring the three captains into the union.

“From the get-go, we knew there would be a lot of language changes to bring the captains under the umbrella,” said Lt. Matt Laughlin, the fire department’s union representative. 

The fire department contract had expired April 30, but both sides called it a relatively smooth process this time around.

While Laughlin said wages and salaries were the only thing negotiated in the fire contract, several other issues are sticking points for the police union.

“There are numerous issues here – financial, time off and scheduling issues,” Shumard said.

One of those issues is a 12-hour shift agreement that was introduced on a trial basis in the current contract. The 12-hour shifts result in alternating 3-day and 4-day workweeks.

Loading more